National Unemployment Rate Falls to Three-Year Low

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Finally, some genuinely good news to celebrate: the U.S. Department of Labor's monthly job market snapshot says that the national unemployment rate has fallen to 8.3 percent, the lowest it has been in three years. January saw 243,000 jobs added to the market, mostly in business services, labor and hospitality, and manufacturing.

Many economists had predicted that the unemployment rate would rise again, as some people lost seasonal jobs in the retail market. Instead, the overall number of people without jobs fell to 12.8 million.

Unfortunately, the number of people who are considered long-term unemployed (those who are unable to find a job for more than 27 weeks) remained virtually unchanged. These 5.5 million people represent a little less than half of all the unemployed, suggesting that employers are still penalizing unemployed candidates in the job hunt.

The last time the jobs market looked this good was in early 2009, when Obama first took office and a sense of optimism imbued the country. The new statistics are good news for all politicians everywhere, who will inevitably use the news to point either to how their policies added jobs to the economy, or to how their opponents aren't doing nearly enough.

[keyana.stevens@keyanastevens]

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